The Beer Store answers the call of the wild

Who: The Beer Store and Dentsumcgarrybowen, with OMD for media.

What: “Into the wilderness,” a campaign venturing into what a release describes as “uncharted territory” for Ontario’s beer retailer, which has tended to take a more traditional marketing approach.

When & Where: The campaign broke last week and runs through mid-September, timed to coincide with what director of marketing Natasha McVie calls “the thirstiest time of the year.” Ads are running online, as well as across video-on-demand and Spotify.

Why: McVie said that the campaign is a continuation of The Beer Store’s efforts to “reinvigorate” the brand amid growing competition from rivals such as the LCBO and grocery stores, while at the same time building affinity among younger customers. It comes at a pivotal time for the organization, which reported an operating loss of $50.7 million last year, coming after a $46.4 million loss in 2019.

The target audience is beer drinkers in their mid-30s to 40s that might not have shopped at The Beer Store previously, said McVie. “Our customers in their 50s have been coming to us for years and we love their loyalty, but there are a lot of customers that are young, in their 30s say, who remember going to The Beer Store with their parents or grandparents to pick up that case of beer for a weekend occasion,” she said. They feel nostalgic about The Beer Store without actually buying their beer there.

The campaign is also timely as (fingers crossed) vaccination rates continue to rise across the province. “Beer goes hand-in-hand with many occasions, and as many of us are seeking to get back to normal this summer, it’s reminding customers where to get beer in their local community,” she said.

How: The campaign is anchored by a series of video ads (nine in total) ranging in length from six to 15 seconds and starring a “not-so-wild wilderness guide” named Will. Dressed in a ranger outfit, Will is shown seeking out various kinds of beer as if they were birds—occasionally employing “beer calls” like the sound of a beer bring cracked open or the sound made by blowing on an open bottle. “We wanted to bring in a persona that was relatable, fun, and [reflective] of the hobbies of many Ontarians, who like to get outside and take in nature,” said McVie.

The spots serve a variety of purposes, from showcasing the more than 1,000 brands available at The Beer Store, to informing customers about the average $9 savings on larger pack sizes that are available exclusively through The Beer Store.


Chris Powell